The Film Industry Wants to Keep the Status Quo? Then Shut It Down.
In 2015, Cutter Ray Palacios, an actor from Texas, moved to Los Angeles. While auditioning for roles, he found himself working primarily as a production assistant (P.A.), a job that can entail transporting actors to and from set, moving equipment, sorting mail and running errands for producers or other members of the crew.
Most P.A.s are not unionized. They are some of the most poorly paid people in the television and film industry: Mr. Palacios was making minimum wage, and for a while he was homeless and living in his car.
“You aren’t allowed to sit down as a P.A.,” he told me. Mr. Palacios considers himself lucky because his show treated him “like family.” But he also says that he used to “call 10-1” — the code to use the bathroom — so he “could sit on the toilet for a few minutes.”
After about a year, Mr. Palacios was approached by another crew member about joining the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). The union represents “below the line” crew members — the cinematographers, grips, hair stylists, costumers and editors whose work is critical to production even if they don’t get top billing on movie posters. “The guy who approached me said, ‘You have a really strong work ethic. How would you feel about making more money with benefits?’” Mr. Palacios told me.
By: Alex Press